Letter from afar IV - © 2005-2008 Einar Petersen
I have arrived safely - I would have expected nothing less, and I think your general fears for traveling are unfounded.
There has not been one single accident recorded since the first gate came online and I doubt we will ever see one with all the safety surrounding the gate system which has been put into place over the years.
I do however have some disturbing tidings to bring you.
I have been diagnosed with jump syndrome, it happens to one in a million and statistically the odds increase the older you get, I knew I was predisposed, took a test before I left.
I know you are immediately going to think treatment and the doctors here are truly competent, but this being a research outpost the treatment facilities are rather primitive, they can do nothing but but put a temporary halt to my condition.
It was a calculated risk and I have as you know already had a rewarding life so it doesn't sadden me and it shouldn't sadden you and I might yet make it back to more “civilized” space where they can do more.
I don't think anyone from the university should come out here though, you guys wouldn't like it here, though the heat is doing wonders for the body.
The view is unforgettable, I am sitting by a view port staring out at a sea of white dunes. The grains are exceptionally fine and get into everything here, good thing we have the cleaning units, they're getting a thorough beating. They say that cleaning units is the biggest import here.
I believe we are about 700 researchers here, it is amazing isn't it?
We have an opportunity to study how life reestablishes itself on a barren planet holding all the elements needed but no indigenous life.
Well at least not from before the Stellar blast, must have been some spectacle, good thing we have been running the stellar watch program for so long or the planet might have been settled, hell they are talking about a rogue settlement that went down in the south polar region when the fireworks came on.
I find it utterly amazing how the biosphere of an entire planet can be wiped clean like that. Nothing survived here, not a single cell, and if we hadn't surveyed the system beforehand we would have been none the wiser.
It is a chilling though with all the settlements out there - how long before one of our major colonies it hit by a stellar burst of that magnitude. Good thing Earth is in the clear.
I'm wondering about Matt, he really wanted to join me on this assignment. Have you heard from him yet?
I think he was a bit disappointed when he had to go to Jacinta, but the kid needs some real field experience and there is no better place than those jungles.
I had a good year there when we established the research outpost ten years ago and I am certain he will too, he is a fine xenobiologist, besides I don't think these dunes would be enough of a challenge to him.
He's more of the kind to love the teeming worlds, not these desolate barren ones.
Though I'll admit not many, myself including thought XB-346 would be the harbinger of anything new when they landed that sample analysis mission there, and boy were we wrong, the complexity and biodiversity was amazing.
Tomorrow we are going out on an extended tour, they have prepared three buggies for us. 9 of us are signed up for the trip.
I'm looking forward to that, haven't tried a wheeled vehicle for… well ages, forgive my pun.
The place we are going to visit is a blast site where a rouge has splashed down, we are going to search for any signs of pre-biologic activity, the sky watch indicated lots of organics in it and there was a huge electrical storm the other day so we might see the signs of some complex formations.
I'm very excited. I believe this is the first time we'll be able to study life formation up close like this, outside the lab. The scrubbing down of the ships and our equipment has been amazing. I don't think there is a microbe that isn't identified on this planet, and they have a very difficult time getting away with spreading due to the harsh conditions here so I doubt we will have contaminated the place enough to interfere with the research. Maybe we should have opted for a robotic mission but since the separation attempt by the mechs sent out during Mission 309 we've been cautious about sending out anything not under our full control and perhaps it is for the better, though it would be interesting to see how they would have evolved had they not been terminated.
I was wondering about one thing, I forgot my copy of The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, you know which edition I am talking about. I can't believe I was that distracted but I can't very well go get it now.
It is tucked away in my office at the university, I will issue a security clearance code for you and I want you to, in case that I do not return to give it to Matt when he returns from Jacinta. The other items are yours to keep should I meet my demise here or on my way back.
I ask that you keep in high spirits - We are on an everlasting journey of discovery here, rejoice about the now and what we had. Worry not about the future for it will care for itself as a wise man once said, according to legend they nailed him to a cross. A nice way to say thanks huh?
Anyway from afar I wish you all the best - I hope the grant proposal is accepted, you have really earned it old friend.
I shall write again soon.
Your friend and compatriot!
Ezra Heinesen, Saguaro IX